While all areas of our daily lives have been impacted by the precautionary measures following the outbreak of COVID-19, EASO reacted quickly to ensure the wellbeing of our staff and external partners. In light of these measures, meetings and face-to-face training activities were suspended as of mid-March. The EASO Training and Professional Development Centre swiftly established a set of actions to ensure the continuation of training activities.
What’s the big difference? Face-to-face training sessions are being replaced by interactive webinars ensuring attendees reach the defined learning outcomes.
EASO train-the-trainer sessions
To enhance the virtual learning environment, as of mid-March the Questions, Answers and General Discussions Forum has been introduced in all online studies, with the aim of providing trainees with an additional opportunity to address any questions they might have to the trainers. In addition, practice exercises were added to the online studies in order to enhance the learning experience in the absence of the immediate face-to-face session.
Meeting with the Training National Contact Points
While the design of new training material has been less affected, with experts’ groups meeting and working jointly online rather than travelling to Malta, continuing to deliver interactive, engaging training posed a challenge. Due to the development of the pandemic, the high number of various ongoing training activities as well as the need for business continuity, EASO has therefore reflected on the way forward for the training delivery and discussed options with the Training National Contact Points during a meeting organised on 11 May.
In order to deal with the continuous training needs both in the national and operational context, to support the comprehensive delivery of training and the replacement of face-to-face sessions for as long as the current restrictions are in place, EASO is gradually adapting the existing Trainer’s Manuals for all EASO modules in order to support and facilitate the virtual delivery of both the online studies as well as the face-to-face sessions. The amended Manuals guide trainers on how to adapt the exercises in order to deliver them in the context of webinars and are made available to all EASO trainers.
Training during COVID-19 in numbers
As a reaction to the changed working conditions of reception and asylum officials around Europe, EASO has noted a significant raise in the enrolment for EASO training. The total number of enrolments from March to May 2020, the months when the COVID-19 preventive measures were in place, was 77% higher compared to the same period in 2019.
Webinar on staff wellbeing
EASO has introduced a set of measures to cater for the needs of staff working under the temporary exceptional working conditions. Following a staff survey on wellbeing the EASO Training and Professional Development Centre designed a webinar training on supporting staff wellbeing during COVID-19, tailored to address the emotions and concerns addressed by EASO staff identified with the survey.
Relevant learning outcomes were identified and addressed in an informative exchange inviting participants to:
- Describe the most common physical, mental and emotional conditions faced by EASO employees during COVID-19;
- Identify signs of poor wellbeing and stress caused by the COVID situation;
- Recognise the main challenges of teleworking-hindering factors during COVID;
- Outline some prevention/mitigation measures to deal with stress management and poor wellbeing during the COVID-19 crisis.